Dar Es Salaam – The Fastest Growing City in the World
After Zanzibar, we headed to „the house of peace“ – Dar es Salaam! Finally, we came to a big and modern city, which was a big difference in comparison to our other destinations in Africa.
As soon as we arrived, we ordered Uber, and we felt relieved because, after quite some time, we found a place where you don’t have to pay in cash. For a family of five, who is constantly on the road, this is always a nice thing.
Once you come here, you might be a bit scared as Dar Es Salaam seriously doesn’t look too safe at night. The city seems chaotic and very dark. You’ll see hundreds of people just walking in the dark with barely any street lights. At that moment, you will be happy that you are not carrying a lot of cash on yourself.
At first glance, our experience was not in accordance with the name of the city. Fortunately, such an impression didn’t last too long.
Soon, we discovered that our accommodation was beyond excellent! The apartment was beautiful and huge, like an oasis: fast internet, washing machine, even YouTube on the TV.
Life is made up of little things, and we were so happy to see our videos on the big screen again!
Without any further ado, let’s focus on Dar es Salaam, and what you should see here!
What Should You Know About Dar Es Salaam?
Dar Es Salaam is the most significant transport and trade center of Tanzania. It is located on the natural port of the Indian Ocean, which is the reason it represents Tanzania’s main port. Various goods from the neighboring countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, and Malawi are exported through here.
Before visiting this place, you should know that Dar es Salaam is divided into three districts: Kinondoni, Ilala, and Temeke. Our accommodation was located in Temeke.
Bandar as-salām (Dar es Salaam) was built in 1862 by the Zanzibar Sultan Sayyid Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid, next to the existing fishing village of Mzizima (which means the Healthy City in Swahili). Over the years, Bandar as-salām and Mzizima merged into one large, glorious city you can visit today.
The city became significant when it was selected by the German East African Society as a location for building their trading colony and base for penetration into the African Great Lakes.
The construction of a railway line, connecting Dar es Salaam and Lake Tanganyika also had a considerable influence on the development of the city.
If you ever had a chance to explore the German and British culture and architecture, you will quickly recognize its impact on the local buildings and landmarks.
Since 2000, Tanzania had an admirably high growth rate. Dar es Salaam, as a city, has grown even faster, due to its essential role in the country’s industry. Dar Es Salaam might be the former capital of Tanzania, but it is still primary business, political and educational center.
There’s one sad fact you should know about Dar es Salaam before coming here. The city was the scene of a terrorist attack on the US Embassy carried out by the local members of the Egyptian Islamic organization in 1998. Ten Tanzanians were killed, and a large number of people were injured in this tragedy.
However, today, the city is more vibrant than ever. There are a lot of cute shops and restaurants, modern buildings, shopping malls, and friendly street sellers.
But our main impression was that Dar es Salaam could show you two sides of the same medal.
What does that mean?
It means that the city succeeds to combine many opposites, such as urban and rural culture, new and old, or darkness and light in every sense. Its unusual blend of different architectural styles, from traditional Swahili to German, British and Asian buildings from colonial times, is the best example of this contrast.
What to Visit in Dar Es Salaam?
Now that you’ve learned what to expect once you come to this city, we will tell you what the most popular tourist attractions and some of the less known, yet exciting sights are.
View of Dar es Salaam
If you climb to the top of the Tanzanite Executive Suites hotel, you will get a stunning view of the city. You can see how it looks and is it worth overcoming the fear of heights, in our YouTube video.
If you decide to be brave and go there, you’ll see both modern and rural part of the city’s landscape. You can also choose any other high building or hotel in the area to get the same effect. This activity will give you a chance to experience the contrast we were talking about; you will witness the glory of gold and modern architecture and both productivity and poorness hidden in the rural parts of Daar Es Salaam.
Azania Lutheran Church
One of the most important and well-known landmarks in Daar Es Salaam is Azania Lutheran Church. Add it to your checklist and remember not to skip it. This fantastic edifice was built back in 1899. It stands proudly right in the middle of the city center, close to the ocean. With a red-tiled roof, Bavarian style and bright white walls, the church’s beauty will leave you speechless.
Just like Zanzibar city, Dar Es Salaam has a lively, colorful market, where you can buy anything you imagine. As you walk down the streets of Kariakoo ward, you will notice numerous street sellers. They offer fruit, shoe repairs, souvenirs, whatever you like. Their cute stores will remind you of the ones you’ve seen in Disney’s Aladdin, and you will have a chance to buy anything from vegetables to African jewelry.
The Kariakoo Market is probably the busiest, most crowded market in Dar Es Salaam, and it is located in the Ilala District on Tandamuti Street.
You can get some sweet deals here, haggle a bit and experience the authentic spirit of Tanzanian shopping culture.
If you loved the idea of visiting Azania Lutheran Church and you interested in religion and different buildings tied to it, head to a downtown Dar es Salaam and take a stroll down the Temple Road.
As the name of the road suggests, you will find a selection of Dar Es Salaam’s most beautiful temples here. You can visit a few, and have a look around or just admire their magnificence from a distance.
Village Museum (Kijiji cha Makumbusho)
Visiting the Village Museum or, Kijiji cha Makumbusho, as locals call it, is the key to getting to know the real Tanzanian culture. This institution is built as a village, but it is a museum at the same time. It might be confusing to you right now, but once you visit the place, you will see what are we talking about. It’s neither a museum nor a village in the conventional sense, yet it is both.
It is situated 10 km north of the city center and houses different exhibits that will tell you amazing stories about the history and natural environment of Tanzania.
Village museum will allow you to see and enter traditional Tanzanian huts or enjoy and join a dance and drum performance!
The best beaches
Once you get tired of strolling around the city and you wish to relax in the sun or jump into the ocean, it is time to visit Dar Es Salaam’s beaches.
As the city is located on the coast of the Indian ocean, in East Africa, you can expect to come across many beautiful beaches. However, these are the top ones in our opinion: Coco Beach, Kigamboni, South Beach, Kunduchi, Bongoyo Island, Mbudya Island and Sandbank.
If you want to explore the ocean’s flora and fauna first hand, visit the Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve. It is located about seven kilometers north of the city, and it offers fantastic snorkeling and diving tours. Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve is an excellent place for a one-day-excursion, especially if you are coming with kids.
Various monuments of culture
If you want to explore Dar Es Salaam’s history and culture in more detail, we would recommend you to see St. Joseph’s Cathedral which is near the White Fathers Mission House, the old State House (also known as the White House or Ikulu) and the National Museum.
On the other hand, if beautiful plants and flowers are the one thing that helps you relax, you can visit the Botanical Gardens in the Kivukoni area. Here, you will have a unique chance to see the rare and stunning Coco de Mer tree outside Seychelles.
Pro Tips for Curious Travelers
We’ll give you some tips on what to expect in Dar es Salaam, what you can and cannot do, and where to find the best services. Enjoy!
- Your impression of Dar Es Salaam might change as you spend your days here. The first night when we arrived, we were worried that the city would be quite dangerous. However, when we look back, we see that our first impression was wrong. People are friendly and welcoming. There are some pickpocketers and tourist scammers, but you will come across those guys wherever you go, not just Dar Es Salaam.
- If you decide to spend more than just a week or two here, you will probably need a haircut at some point. Men can get a fantastic haircut for only $4! Here’s the map to help you find the Intenso Male Saloon, which provides such an excellent service.
- There’s no need to miss the premiere of the movie you’ve been expecting for a long time, just because you are in Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam has a fantastic movie theater in Mkuki House shopping mall! Our girls had a great time seeing Pitch Perfect 3 here.
- Shopping malls, such as the one we’ve mentioned above, and many others around the city are huge! However, if you want to film some footage or make a vlog in here, be careful. Filming isn’t allowed in their stores, so be careful.
- To help you figure out the prices in Dar Es Salaam, we will give you an example. While visiting this shopping mall, we decided to buy a little package of laundry detergent for washing, little paper wipes, small packets of milk and coffee. We paid about 25 bucks for all of that.
- When is the best time to visit Dar Es Salaam? Well, in our opinion, the best time for scheduling your holiday would be summer. It is a dry season, compared to March to May when you can expect heavy rains.
- Don’t forget to protect yourself from malaria, buy medicine for prevention and suppressive malaria prophylactics, in case you need them.
- Be cautious. Some places in Dar Es Salaam are severely crowded, such as their markets. This means that your risk of getting pickpocketed is increased. When you go wandering around, don't carry too much cash on you and avoid carrying other valuables that you care for as well.
- In Dar es Salaam you will have a chance to try excellent Indian food. A significant percentage of the population is Indian, and there are countless Indian restaurants all over the city. You will find the best ones in the Upanga area. Most famous restaurants are Bawarchi, Delhi Dar Bar, Patel Grounds (which is a sports club that turns into a restaurant in the evening) and ChapanBhog.
- You can come to Dar Es Salaam by airplane. The city has an international airport called Julius Nyerere. This is the largest airport in Tanzania, and it is named after their first president.
- You will meet a lot of interesting people in Dar Es Salaam. During our stay here, we met a man who had visited all 54 countries in Africa with his family! Him, his wife and his daughter joined us for a nice dinner, and we’ve discussed our experiences. His advice for frugal traveling through Africa is that you should rely on Couchsurfing and camping. These two options can cover about 60% of your accommodation needs, the rest of the time you’ll have to book hotel rooms and private accommodation.
- If you want to see more details from our travels, make sure to check out our YouTube channel, Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe, give us a big thumbs up and share our story with anyone who could benefit from it.
Remember, borers are nothing more but lines on a map.